The latest Lee County traffic statistics reveal troubling news. The News-Press reports that during the first six months of this year, there was a 32 percent increase in the number of traffic deaths as compared to the first six months of 2014.
As we head into the summer driving season, there have been 43 people killed in Lee County traffic crashes so far this year. If we continue that pace, the county will see more than 100 traffic deaths for the first time in eight years. The county tallied 106 traffic fatalities back in 2007, which was a record.
Victims ranged in age from 10-years-old to 85-years-old. Some were operating souped up pickup trucks and others were simply moving along in typical sedans. Among the most recent incidents:
- A teen pedestrian was fatally struck by a vehicle in Lehigh Acres;
- A Naples motorcyclist was killed in a Fort Myers crash;
- A bicyclist was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Fort Myers on a recent Monday morning.
These all happened within the span of just a couple days, and the deaths continue. Eighteen of the 43 crashes counted in the last several months happened in Fort Myers. Six happened on I-75.
Perhaps the worst part is Lee County isn’t unique in this rise of fatal traffic accidents. Officials with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report the number of statewide traffic deaths so far this year is up 12 percent.
However, Lee County fared worse than many other locations. In fact, we are in one of just four counties statewide where the number of crashes this year compared to last had increased by more than 10.
In Collier County, meanwhile, 13 people have been killed in traffic collisions so far this year, compared to 11 this time last year.
So why are we seeing so many more fatalities? Traffic safety experts say there is no single culprit, but rather a number of overlapping reasons.
First, we have an increasing population here in Lee County. That was true during the housing boom prior to 2007, but it slid during the economic recession. Now, people are once again flocking to make Southwest Florida their home. Along with the increasing number of residents are a greater number of vacationers. More people have disposable income and more people than in recent years are using that money to take a trip. South Florida is a prime vacation destination.
But that’s not the whole story, according to the local Florida Highway Patrol spokesman. He noted that in 39 of the deadly crashes so far this year, more than 60 percent involved at least one of the following risk factors:
- High speed
- Riding a motorcycle helmetless
- Failure to wear a seat belt
- Impaired driving
Those are only the cases for which traffic accident investigations have been completed. Several cases are still pending.
The biggest problem? Complacency, officials say. People get comfortable behind the wheel. They follow too closely. They drive too fast. They don’t come to complete stops at stop signs. They don’t use turn signals. They glance at their phones. They fail to consider that each of these split-second actions can have a devastating, life-long impact on themselves and those with whom they share the road.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Lee County traffic fatalities on the rise, May 24, 2015, By Dan Deluca, The News-Press
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